Andrea Miralles, Activist and Software Developer.
Tell us abit about yourself and what you do?
How and why did you get involved in tech
What is your experience being a POC in Tech?
I have a lot of thoughts on this. I am Filipina, one of a handful of types of Asian that is majorly underrepresented in the umbrella term “Asian.” People often think of East Asians when they hear or read the word Asian. I consider myself Asian American, as I should, but I more strongly identify as Filipino American because it is more precise and actually representative of my underrepresentation—in tech and in the world. I never met another Filipino person at Hack Reactor, but I met tons of East Asians and white people. Carta has over 300 employees, and I am one of two Filipinos in the California offices—around 200 people combined in San Francisco and Palo Alto. In the engineering teams I have been on, I am unsurprisingly usually the only female engineer—this was the case in two out of three teams I have been on, which actually isn’t that bad all things considered. Teams are generally diverse because we have a Rio, Brazil office and therefore a high Brazilian representation, and the company actually cares about retention and acquisition of women and diversity numbers.
However, I still sometimes feel like an outsider. Firstly, because I am female and secondly because I am an ambiguous-looking, dark-skinned Asian. I also speak Spanish openly whenever I can, so people often think I am Latina. I also sometimes feel like being a woman of color it is my currency, my buy into exclusive clubs because I am a minority in tech. Deep down I know that if our society had gender equality and racial equality (or cultural equity, which encompasses these and more), I would not feel this way. I like to feel wanted and needed, obviously for more than filling diversity quotas. I often wonder if white people ever think about their intersectionalities in this way.
All in all, I feel like being a person of color in tech has its weight on my conscience, which affects me in a number of ways. I feel different, I register that I am not like the average person I interact with, but I still do me—I speak up, stand up, do my work, and get along great with people. Being a person of color in tech definitely makes me want to encourage other people of color into the field. I know that tech is a forward-thinking industry, and being a person of culture has been no legitimate set back for me.
What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to enter tech?
Just do it. You won’t be sorry. You won’t know unless you try! There are so many avenues to take in tech; there’s something for every type of person with any skillset. Medtech, fintech, biotech, fitness tech, you name it! You just have to find your niche. There are more than engineering roles in tech, too, such as sales, business, finance, recruiting, etc.
If you care about company culture and diversity like I do, when you get to the onsite interview stage, ask about company culture, about their work hours, diversity initiatives, anything you actually care about regarding the work environment and your colleagues. If you want to get a gauge for how well you’ll get along with these prospective colleagues, and if you’re wondering about female representation or diversity and inclusion at the company, these questions and similar ones are the ones you need to be asking. The interviewers’ responses massively reflect what the company actually does. If they have no response to diversity questions, you’ll know the company does nothing toward it and doesn’t care. This is because if the company did have initiatives, were transparent about them, and enthusiastic about them, the interviewer would likely echo that excitement because they’ve been primed with it.
This is exactly what I did. I asked if the culture is bro-y to my one female interviewer (out of five) who was my “laid back, ask me anything” interviewer. She even began my interview by asking what I do in my organization Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center as a Board Member, which kicked off a conversation on the anti-racism work I do. I had that in my personal section of my resume, and I am so happy that I included it. Our conversations about gender, racism, diversity, and inclusion hugely impacted my decision to join the company.